Witnesses are crucial in car accidents. Sometimes, they see things that the drivers may have missed. This recollection of events by other parties could help or hurt a car accident compensation claim.
How to Get a Witness Statement
A witness has no legal obligation to stay on the scene or speak with you. If you think a potential witness might be helpful to your claim, you can try to talk to them and ask them to write down what they saw and heard during the accident. If they agree to cooperate, make sure you get their name, address, and contact information.
Keep in mind that there is no need for legal formalities to secure a witness statement. Just ask your potential witness to sign and date each page of their statement.
If you were involved in a car accident, you should consider consulting a Michigan personal injury lawyer. Our legal experts at The Clark Law Office can help investigate the crash thoroughly and talk to witnesses if needed.
How a Witness Statement Can Affect Your Car Accident Claim
If you are suing for compensation following a car accident, you must be able to prove that the other driver was at fault. Speeding, driving distracted, failing to obey traffic rules, driving while intoxicated, or running a stop sign can constitute negligence.
Since witnesses are not related to the drivers involved, they are considered a neutral party with no vested interest in the claim. Witnesses are supposed to provide an objective perspective, which makes their statement crucial in supporting your claim and discrediting the other party.
Maybe a witness saw the other driver texting or running through a red light before crashing into your vehicle. Their statement could actually make or break your case.
The Importance of Witness Credibility
Statements from credible witnesses may carry a lot of weight. On the other hand, witnesses who have questionable credibility are likely to be ignored by the judge, jury, and insurance adjusters.
There are plenty of factors that can impact witness credibility.
- Are the witness statements consistent from the time of the accident to the actual trial?
- Did the witness have a clear view of the accident scene?
- Is the witness testimony believable?
- What is the character of the witness?
- Did the witness lie about parts of their story?
- Does the witness have a criminal record?
- Is the witness biased towards the outcome of the claim?
If the witness is not credible, your lawyer may cross-examine them in order to help support your claim.
How to Speak to a Potential Witness
Car accidents are a traumatic experience, so it is understandable if you feel shaken up following a collision. Your first instinct is to check for injuries, not document the events. Once you are calm and composed, you could try to look for witnesses and ask them what they saw. Ask permission first before recording their statement on an audio device.
When talking to witnesses, keep the following in mind:
- Always be polite
- Do not argue
- Do not find blame
- Do not try to intimidate them
- Do not ask leading questions
When you get home, put the witness testimony in writing and give a copy to your lawyer.
What If You Witnessed a Car Accident?
Witnessing a car accident can be just as terrifying as being involved in one. However, knowing how to respond in such emergencies can ultimately save lives – that of the victims and yours.
- Drive at a safe distance and pull over.
Do not rush to the scene. Secure your car first by pulling over to the shoulder and turning on your hazard lights. Stay at a safe distance, so you do not block access to emergency personnel.
- Call 911.
Call 911 and provide the operator with as many details as possible – location of the accident, how many cars are involved, and how many people require medical attention.
- Offer assistance.
Offer to help move vehicles out of the way, so they do not block oncoming traffic. If you do, park the vehicles on the shoulder with hazard lights flashing. If you have an emergency kit, this is the time to bring out the reflective warning triangle or distress flare.
A critical reminder: do not attempt to touch any person involved in the accident. They may be seriously hurt, and moving them could do more harm than good.
- Give your statement and leave your information.
Tell the police and first responders what you witnessed and exchange information with the people involved in the crash. They may need your statement later on for insurance or legal purposes. When giving testimony, make sure your account is accurate and consistent.
The Clark Law Office Is Here To Help.
If you need assistance in finding witnesses and securing statements to support your claim, our Lansing car accident lawyers are ready to help.
The Clark Law Office does not charge any upfront fees. Our free, no-obligation consultation means that we only get paid after you have recovered financial compensation for your claim.